Yeast Infection/Thrush

Thrush is also known as Yeast, Candida or Monilia. This infection is frequently caused by Candida Albicans that is often found in the vagina and the gastrointestinal tract. Yeast thrives in moist, dark and warm environments.

Cracked or damaged nipples, recently used antibiotics, oral contraceptives, steroids (like those prescribed for asthma) or a vaginal yeast infection increase your chances of developing thrush.

Infant Symptoms:
Oral Thrush will look like white patches on baby’s gums, lips, tongue, the inside of his cheeks or tongue. These white patches, as opposed to the ones caused by breastmilk, cannot be wiped off. If you try, these patches might turn red and even bleed.
A persistent, bright red, raised, bumpy diaper rash might also be present.
Baby will be gassy and fussier than usual,
Will refuse to nurse or will nurse for a moment, then pull off the breast and cry.
Clicking sounds may be heard during breastfeeding.

Mother’s Symptoms:
After a period of pain free breastfeeding, mother’s nipples might look red or, in some cases, pinkish and shiny, with flaky and scabby skin.
A burning, itching and stabbing sensation in the nipple and/or breast during and/or after feedings.
Some mothers report not being able to tolerate the touch of their own bra or cloth against their nipples, or even the water in the shower hitting their breasts.
If nursing is painful, consider short frequent feedings, beginning with the breast that hurts the least.

Mother and baby should be treated simultaneously, even if only one shows visible symptoms. Any other site of infections such as the diaper area and the vagina should be treated as well.

Consult your lactation consultant and healthcare provider if you suspect you have yeast infection. The lactation consultant can rule out other possible causes of sore nipples such as nipple dermatitis, eczema, nipple vasospasm or Raynaud’s Syndrome.

Home Remedies can be the start of the treatment, along with over the counter topical antifungals such as Miconazole or Clotrimazole, and gentian violet, a disinfectant/germicide. If these are not working for you, a prescription of systematic antifungals such as Fluconazole might be necessary. Discuss these options, along with frequency and duration of use, with you and your baby’s healthcare providers.

Warning: Some countries such as Australia and United Kingdom have discontinued gentian violet use due to irritation and ulceration of mucous membranes.

Home Remedies
Keep in mind that these recommendations need to be followed in combination with your healthcare provider’s.

Hand wash with a non-antibacterial soap after using the toilet, changing diapers and if your hands come in contact with the breasts or breastmilk.

Air dry your nipples after a feeding and expose them to sunlight for a few minutes a few times a day (remember yeast thrives in dark places).

Wear cotton bras to allow your nipples to breathe.

Boil once a day for 20 minutes anything that comes in contact with your baby’s mouth and breastmilk such as: pacifiers, bottles, plastic nipples, teething toys, pumping kit pieces, etc. Breastmilk pumped during the yeast infection period can be fed to the baby, but shouldn’t be frozen as freezing doesn’t destroy yeast.

Wash all bras, bra pads, nightgowns and any other clothes that comes in contact with your nipples, in HOT water. Add a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle and dry on hot in the dryer or, even better, in the sun as yeast hates sunlight. If your baby uses cloth diapers, make sure they also follow the above instructions.

Use towels and washcloths only once before washing as they can also harbor yeast.

Rinse your nipples with a vinegar and water solution (1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup water) after every feeding. Use a fresh cotton ball for each application and change the solution daily.

Add acidophilus supplements to your diet along with yogurt with live and active cultures